Miami has had a wealth of talent at the receiver position in recent seasons. Stacy Coley Jr, Darrell Langham Jr, Ahmmon Richards, Lawrence Cager, Jeff Thomas, and Mike Harley Jr have shown flashes of brilliance from the slot and the flanks. A common thread between all of those receivers is that there appears to be plenty of potential left untapped due to a lack of consistency in play-calling and quarterback play. Thomas and Harley are still a part of the program and have an opportunity to make big time plays for the Canes, but new head coach Manny Diaz made a concerted effort to bring a steady presence to the receiver room, and he found it through the transfer portal with ex-Buffalo wideout KJ Osborn.
What the Canes now have with the Ypsilanti, MI native and IMG Academy alum is a solidly built receiver (6’0”, 205lb) who has shown steady growth over his last 3 seasons. While Osborn surely benefited from playing with a talented QB in Tyree Jackson (currently with the Buffalo Bills) as well as against inferior competition in the MAC conference, his journey to this point is very reassuring. A 2-star recruit out of high school, Osborn redshirted his first year, and then posted lines of 8 catches/105 yards/1 TD in year 1, 35 catches/493 yards/4 TDs in year 2, and 53 catches/892 yards/7 TDs in year 3. Those gradual improvements in a player that was not highly sought after out of high school show a quality work ethic, which you can see from his post-practice presser above. Let’s consider his on-field attributes:
Osborn is a shifty receiver that also possesses the straight line speed to take the top off of the defense. You can see his ability to make tacklers miss in the video above when catching a screen pass as well as in the return game. He has already demonstrated his big-play ability 2 months ago in the spring game, hauling in a 80-yard touchdown from fellow transfer Tate Martell. At 205 lbs, Osborn should be better equipped to keep defenders off the ball when going over the middle.
The Canes wide receiving corps appeared to be at least a solid group coming into the spring, but after Osborn’s arrival and reincorporating Jeff Thomas, Miami is putting its best foot forward in trying to provide whoever starts at QB with all the weapons they’ll need. QB play aside, the receivers should be a better group this season because of the collective level of experience. As a grad-transfer, Osborn has played more football than anyone in the room, and should be able to transfer that experience to the rest of the squad.
There’s plenty to get excited about on offense heading into 2019, and there’s plenty to be excited about KJ Osborn’s game. Canes fans everywhere should keep an eye on #2 for his one season in Coral Gables.